#385 - 2 ETERNAL DESTINATIONS (2/7/21)
If you’ve ever seen the film Ghost, it depicts bad people, on their death, being dragged down to, it is assumed, hell. It’s quite disturbing to watch. However, Patrick Swayze -the ghost - gets taken to heaven because he's a good guy. The message is the common one that hell is for really bad criminals or someone who is clearly wicked. However, Jesus teaches that hell is everyone’s destination unless they enter the narrow way of faith in Christ. The entrance to hell is 'broad and many enter through it'! God is holy and the best of us is desperately wicked and need the cleansing that is available at the cross.
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognise them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognise them.” (Matthew 7:15-20)
The broad way has an eternal destination
Jesus warns us that those who are on the broad way are heading for ‘destruction'. He reinforces the same idea by saying that that Bad trees with bad fruit will be ‘cut down and thrown into the fire.’ This corresponds to what He says in v.23 “I never knew you, away from me”. Hell is the eternal destination of those who will not receive Jesus.
This is a very serious statement. Those who do not enter the narrow way - those who don’t receive Jesus and seek to obey Him - will be condemned to eternal destruction. We read this terrifying statement in Revelation,
‘Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.’ (Revelation 20:15)
The narrow way has an eternal destination
However, the point of this Sermon on the Mount and this section is to warn us because Jesus wants us to avoid destruction and come into life. It’s Jesus’ will that you know Him and enjoy His love and presence. Let’s never forget what He said earlier about the Father who, ‘gives good gifts to those who ask him.’ (Matthew 7:11). If you ask God to forgive and save you, you will be saved!
Jesus does not want us to live in fear and uncertainty as regards our eternal destination. Jesus’ teaching here is designed to unsettle the arrogant and self-confident but to reassure the humble -the ‘poor in spirit’- who have put their faith in God alone for salvation and fruit-bearing.
Are you confident of your eternal destination? Do you know why a Holy God should accept you? Are you relying entirely on the mercy of God toward you in Christ? Can you say,
‘For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.’ (Romans 8:29-30).
May this vision of life and death motivate us to pray, serve and share the gospel in our community.
COMMUNITY GROUP STUDY - GET NARROW
It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.
Do you have a memorable experience of taking the wrong road or route?
Recap of Sunday's message - please share in your group
On Sunday we continued with our series on discipleship from The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus uses four illustrations (we'll cover three this week) to challenge the crowd that He's teaching - and us- to a decision: will we obey Him or not?
1. ENTER THE NARROW WAY
Please read Matthew 7:13-14
JESUS IS THE ONLY SAVIOUR
The narrow way is about Jesus being the only ways to salvation. Peter said to the crowds,
“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12
We cannot be saved from our good works. Paul taught,
‘All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.’ (Romans 3:23-24
2. DEFEND NARROWNESS
Please read Matthew 7:15-20
We have to 'watch out' and learn to recognise wolves and those that are simply unhelpful. The 'flock' (local church) is defended in two ways:
God gives elders and other leaders who are to help the church to remain narrow. In our information age, it's important to prioritise the teaching of your local church elders.
Please read Acts 20:28-31
We must learn to defend ourselves. Church leaders and movements can go bad. It's important to pray for our leaders and talk to them if we feel uncomfortable with their teaching or behaviour.
3. DO - DO NARROW THINGS
We must enter, defend and do what's narrow.
Please read Matthew 7:21-23
These false prophets want us to abandon the narrow gate and road in favour of the broad. The broad way is living outside of the Lordship of Christ. The narrow gate and road is about obeying Jesus as His disciple. Those who truly know Jesus, will seek to obey Him.
I think that it's important to add that there's lots of teachers and teaching which is enjoyable but is simply a waste of time or promotes a 'self-help' approach to gaining success. Of course, there are no non-Christians from whom we can learn. However, Jesus wants us to be His disciple and to give our minds, predominantly, to learning from Him.
1. Did God Speak to you, or what do you plan to do in response to Sunday's message?
2. What is the narrow way?
3. How does one enter the narrow way?
3. How does one recognise false teachers?
4. How do you, or could you, give priority to learning from Jesus?
5. Jesus says that only those who 'do the will of my Father' will enter the kingdom of heaven.' We are saved by faith and not by works, so what does Jesus mean by this comment?
Serving, Investing and inviting
1) Have you got any encouraging stories of serving, investing and inviting that you'd like to share?
2) Who has God put into your life that we could pray for together?
2) How are you planning to serve invest and invite?
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